Roughnecks riding four-game win streak

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:21 AM ET

The way their head coach breaks it down, the Calgary Roughnecks have all the momentum heading into halftime.

And they will need it for a tough third quarter.

With eight games completed in their National Lacrosse League season, the Riggers have hit the halfway point in their schedule on a four-game winning streak.

Head coach Dave Pym separates the 16-game season into four quarters, and the second frame was a complete turnaround after a 1-3 start.

Now, it’s crunch time.

The Washington Stealth are the opponents Saturday night (7:30 p.m., Saddledome) as the Riggers kick off the second half, and it’s a rubber match plus a first-place showdown.

“This is a huge game,” said Pym, whose team needs a victory to win the season series with the Stealth. “We’ve played some talented teams, but this one has extra meaning.

“The guys should rise to the occasion. It should be a good litmus test to see where we are mentally, physically and tactically. We believe we have a great game plan, so we want to see how it plays out.”

In the past four games, the Riggers have beaten the Edmonton Rush, Toronto Rock, Stealth and Philadelphia Wings.

Four-game winning streaks can boost the self-esteem, but the Riggers aren’t quite satisfied.

“In this league, when you put three or four in a row, you are doing something right,” said forward Scott Ranger. “Hopefully, we can continue. It’s not confidence. The guys are just playing better, myself included.”

There was plenty of talk of a championship hangover to start this season. The Roughnecks went 12-4 last season and rolled through the playoffs without trouble.

At 1-3 this season, they were challenged to regain that form under the new coaching staff, and the players have responded.

At this point, they look once again like title contenders.

“We wanted to go 3-1 after the 1-3 start, but we ended up going 4-0,” said defender Andrew McBride. “We’re really starting to play the way we want to play.

“We prepare well and know what the other teams are bringing to the table.”

Every game for the next month has implications on playoff positioning. One of the advantages the Riggers had last year was, with the league’s best record, they stayed at home during the playoffs.

So they want to win these tiebreaker games against the Stealth, on the road against the Orlando Titans next week and then back at home against the Minnesota Swarm.

Of the final five games, four of them are on the road, but clearly this ‘third quarter’ is the toughest, with the final outing at Toronto.

“It’s a tough four-game stretch, and it’s going to be a challenge for every guy on the team,” Pym said. “I’m looking forward to it, and so are they.”

Three weeks ago in Everett, Wash., the Riggers grabbed a 10-1 halftime lead and held on to beat the Stealth 13-9.

This is their third meeting with Washington in the past nine outings, so the Riggers are quite familiar with what to expect from the Stealth.

“We’re both good squads. I personally had a past with the franchise, so I don’t mind playing them,” said Ranger, who was released by the San Jose Stealth in 2006.

“It doesn’t matter who you are playing. We just prepare to play our game. We look at some little things they do and put them into our plan, but mostly, we keep doing what we do.”


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